kerravonsen: What is essential is invisible to the eye (essential-invisible)
2017-09-09 10:43 pm
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Ah, So That's Why

One thing that has baffled me quite a bit in these angry arguments about things like abortion and gay marriage, is the protest "religions shouldn't impose their morals on other people". To me, that has sounded completely unfair, because it's like declaring that anyone who follows a religion shouldn't have a say in a democracy, because obviously their opinions and their votes are going to be informed by their morals, their conscience, their beliefs.

I had an "aha!" moment recently, during a discussion on Twitter. (yes, very unwise to try to discuss anything on Twitter, but it was initially a cordial and respectful discussion, I think.) There are two classes of moral rules: those that apply to everybody, and those that only apply to some people. I think we can agree that things like "don't murder" and "don't steal" apply to everybody. The usual rule of thumb is "if it harms someone else, it applies to everybody". The ones that only apply to some people (I think?) are in the form of a promise made by a person to do or not to do something. Like promising to be faithful to your spouse; doesn't apply to those who don't have a spouse. My "aha" moment was the realisation that non-believers in (Judeo-Christian Abrahamic) religions think that ALL of the religious moral rules ONLY ever apply to followers of that religion; because they're in the form of a promise to obey those rules when they follow that religion, and if you didn't promise to, you don't have to. Whereas followers of Judeo-Christian Abrahamic religions believe that since God/Yahweh/Allah is the ruler/owner of the entire universe, there are some rules that He has laid down which apply to everybody, believer and non-believer alike, and that these rules are self-evident.
Read more... )
The basis of any cordial discussion of differences is the assumption of good will on the part of the participants. Without it, there is no discussion, just an acrimonious argument.

I'm leaving comments on for the moment, because I am interested in what you think, but the moment someone starts engaging in verbal fisticuffs, I will turn commenting off; I can't deal with the stress.
kerravonsen: Yin-Yang symbol, black and rainbow-sparkles (yin-yang)
2017-07-16 09:48 pm
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Thought For The Day

Strive to never be ashamed of any of your works, for you don't get to choose what you are remembered by.

(This brought to you by thoughts of Josette Simon and Arthur Conan Doyle.)
kerravonsen: Gregory House listening on earphones: "Listen" (listen)
2017-05-06 01:15 am
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Encouraging Songs

I was going to say "happy songs" but they aren't just happy, they are songs which try to be encouraging. I'm pondering the nature of encouraging songs, and the different approaches they take. Some of them mean well, but end up being DIScouraging instead.

There are a whole pile of "encouraging" songs that I'm not going to list here, which I find more irritating than anything. They're the ones which declare that "you are special" and that all you have to do is just go for it and believe in yourself and everything will work out. No. To "believe in yourself" may be a necessary condition, but it is not sufficient. These songs can be downright discouraging, because they imply that success is as easy as snapping your fingers to summon the right attitude, and that after that, there won't be any problems. Far too naive and simplistic for me. Almost bordering on blame-the-victim, too; that if you don't succeed, there is something wrong with you because you weren't optimistic enough.

Read more... )
kerravonsen: fobwatch: "Windmills of your mind" (fobwatch)
2017-04-03 12:07 pm
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Cultural Appropriation?

Saw this on twitter this morning:

Cultural appropriation of rainbow

Of course, everyone is mocking the original tweet, but it did get me thinking. Because, as a Christian, it has annoyed me for a long time that I can no longer use a rainbow as a symbol of God's love. Because the symbol is more commonly recognised in these times, as belonging to another group, symbolising something completely different. And that makes it feel like it has been stolen. Is that cultural appropriation? I'm not sure that it is; after all, the rainbow is up there in the sky, and people have used it before the LGBTQ movement to symbolise other things, such as ending racial discrimination. So why do I feel as if it has been stolen? Partly, I expect, because the LGBTQ symbol represents something completely anathema to God's teachings. Other uses of the rainbow haven't been for something hostile to Christianity. Does that hostility make it cultural appropriation? I don't know. It is something, but I'm not sure whether "cultural appropriation" is the right term for it.

Hey, thoughtful people, what do you think?
kerravonsen: Miles: The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart. (Miles)
2017-02-07 03:36 pm
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Thought For the Day

Those who are suffering greatly may win through to a kind of serenity, not because things have gotten better, but because their survival depends on it. They must consciously reject the voice of despair, because the destruction that Despair will wreak is more than they can recover from. On the left, a precipice. On the right, a fog. There are no other choices left.
kerravonsen: 7th Doctor with an open umbrella: foresight (Doc7)
2016-12-16 12:06 pm
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I do do not do don't do stuff

Pondering on this:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

---- Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)

Thing is... it isn't as if I don't want to do the things that I do, or I wouldn't do them. I want to do them at that moment. But... the problem seems to me, that I have contradictory wants that are incompatible with each other. I don't mean "the battle between good and evil in my soul". It isn't that straightforward. If it were, it would be easier to choose between them.

Take this example: I want to go to bed at a reasonable time, so I get adequate rest. I also want to keep working on the project I am working on. It's not like one of these is evil, but they are incompatible with each other when it's after 11PM at night. Why is it that I keep working on the project when I also know that working on the project will prevent me from sleeping?

Want #1: keep working
Want #2: stop working

I can't do both.

I'm wondering if this is a combination of inertia (keep doing what you are currently doing) and inability to grasp delayed gratification -- that is, the project is here now in front of me, the good sleep is more ephemeral, because it isn't like I will fall asleep as soon as I want to. The Superego knows that I ought to stop, while the Id just wants to keep working.

And in the meantime, I get tired.
kerravonsen: from "The Passion", Christ's head with crown of thorns: "Love" (Christ)
2016-12-02 06:47 am
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The Text, the Whole Text, and the Context

I was pondering bible-studies I had participated in, and I realised something. Many Christians just sit around in bible-studies and wait to be told what to think. How totally bizarre! What do they think bible-studies are for? A place where someone in authority (the leader) spoon-feeds them pre-digested doctrine, and then they have a cup of tea and a gossip?

Don't they want to find out for themselves? Do they think themselves incapable of finding out for themselves? Or not qualified? Or not authorised? Or is it just like too much hard work? It's a text. Read it. Think about what it says. Figure out what it means. Like we did in English at school.

What do they teach them at these schools?

Yeah, I know. They teach them to hate learning.

Thank God for fandom, where people analyse texts in minute detail, for fun.
kerravonsen: a rose bud: "Beauty is mysterious" (beauty)
2016-10-07 01:05 am

The Pursuit of Happiness

"The secret of success is this: there is no secret of success." -- Elbert Hubbard

I'm tempted to say something similar: the secret of happiness is this: there is no secret of happiness. But that isn't quite it, though it is similarly paradoxical. Happiness is like a wild bird: if you pursue it, it will flee from you, but if you sit still, it may creep up on you while you're not looking. Why do I say that? Because pursuing happiness as a goal means you have to decide beforehand what will make you happy, and pursue that thing; if you fail to get that thing, you will be unhappy; if you succeed in getting that thing, it may still not make you happy, so you chase some other thing which may or may not make you happy - it's like chasing a mirage. If you don't predefine what will make you happy, you give life an opportunity to pleasantly surprise you.

But if you can't pursue happiness, how can you find it? It is frustrating to me when people speak in generalities like "think positive" without saying how to do so, when life is full of negatives that get you down. It's like saying "you can be happy by being happy" - circular logic is not helpful.

So I figured I'd try to be helpful by noting some things for the stealth-ninja method of allowing happiness to creep up on you.

Read more... )
kerravonsen: Church steeple silhuetted against clouds: "How can I keep from singing?" (singing)
2016-09-06 10:12 pm
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The Quality of...

Things would be a lot simpler if God were not merciful.

Justice would be swift, vengeance would be complete. People would get exactly what they deserve; instant Karma for everyone. One could use someone's status in the world to determine their status with God. All misfortunes would be judgements, and all good fortune would be an indication of merit.

This is the God that many people seem to want. Especially the self-righteous. This is the God that they have created in their own image: swift to anger, slow to forgive.

If God were not merciful, things would be simpler. They would not be better.

For one thing, humanity would have been wiped out a long time ago.
kerravonsen: Severus Snape silhuetted inside the image of Hermione Granger: secrets (secrets)
2016-07-28 09:46 am

Thought For the Day

You know the saying "those who trade Liberty for Security deserve neither"?
I have another one to add to it: those who trade Privacy for Convenience deserve neither.
kerravonsen: Miles: The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart. (trade-heart)
2016-07-20 11:28 am
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Another Related Thought

I would rather be thought of as naive and gullible, than to treat innocent people with suspicion and fear.
kerravonsen: The words of Martin Niemoller, about Nazi Germany. (first-they-came)
2016-07-20 10:12 am
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Thought For the Day

One does not truly believe in freedom of speech until one defends the right of someone else to be Wrong In Public.

It's easy to defend the rights of someone you agree with. It's not so easy to defend the rights of someone who is "mistaken at the top of their voice".

(This post brought to you courtesy of an argument I had with someone on a completely different topic.)
kerravonsen: Edmund + Aslan: "Ransomed Soul" (Edmund)
2016-06-20 07:44 am
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The difference between envy and jealousy is this: with envy, you see something that someone else has, and you want to have it as well; with jealousy, you see something that someone else has, and you want to take it away from them.

I remember being jealous of someone's attention once; it was an ugly feeling. I did not like the me that I was when I was feeling it.

I suspect/speculate that the Fall was caused by Lucifer being jealous of God's attention to these puny beings called mankind.

Though the problem with using jealousy as an explanation is that it is often used as an excuse; that is, "You're just jealous" is a counter-accusation used by party B when party A has a grievance with party B, and party B does not want to acknowledge that party A has any right to this grievance. This is used for anything from terrorism (Isama Bin Laden was apparently jealous of America) to negative fanfic reviews (yes, I was accused of jealousy by someone whom I gave a negative review to, which was completely illogical, because by that logic, I would give negative reviews to any story that was good).
kerravonsen: Miles: The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart. (trade-heart)
2016-05-02 08:34 pm

Worthy is the...?

Y'know, I don't want to teach kids the worth of money.
I'd rather teach them the worthlessness of money.
kerravonsen: Jack O'Neill holding a gun: "security blanket" (gun)
2016-04-30 08:15 pm

Something Been Thinking

Buying a gun to protect yourself from guns is like buying a butane torch to protect yourself from arsonists. If you want protection, wear kevlar.
kerravonsen: Martha: "made of awesome" (Martha-awesome)
2016-03-22 10:13 pm
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Pondering the -isms

Proposition: racism is a form of classism. Why? Because in Europe, Spaniards are considered to be "white", while in America, they are considered to be "coloured". Therefore it has nothing really to do with skin colour; rather the skin colour is a "class marker". Class markers are superficial characteristics which mark someone as being in a particular class, a way of lumping all those people together very quickly and with little effort. Other class markers are things like accent and clothing -- things that can be taken in at a glance, or as soon as someone opens their mouth. And they are often things which are difficult or impossible to change.

The thing about classism is that it isn't just lumping people together in a group, and it isn't just lumping people together in a group and being prejudiced against that group. The added thing with classism is that it is a hierarchy where the people lower on the totem pole are a threat, and they must be pushed down and "kept in their place", because otherwise they threaten the pecking order.

There is NOTHING inherently superior or inferior about any class. There is merely power, and the lack of it. Those with power use it to their advantage, and tell themselves that they are "naturally superior". We all know that's rubbish.

There is classism, which is a superior/inferior divide, but that isn't the only type of group-prejudice around. I'm thinking of the ally/enemy dichotomy too. That's where we get things like the "evil Hun" stereotype, and the "all Muslims are extremists" stereotype etc. I class this one differently because the threat is more explicit, and it isn't necessarily a superior/inferior thing... I'm not sure whether, in demonizing enemies, whether they are considered to be equals or not, or whether it is an attempt to make them seem inferior as well. But no, because the demonized enemies are not considered to be stupid or lazy, they are considered to be evil: equal in cunning, but inferior in morality. Enemies, after all, have equal power, or you wouldn't be fighting them, you'd be crushing them under your heel (or being crushed under their heel, depending). Less powerful enemies are either rebels (if they are within your sphere) or barbarians (if they are not).

Immigrants (as distinct from conquerors) tend to have less power, and are often seen as a threat, especially when they come in large numbers in a short time. A threat to the prosperity of their equals because they are rivals for the same resources, and a resource for the most powerful, if they can be oppressed and exploited from the get-go. (Gee, I'm being really cynical here, aren't I?) Because they are new-come, they are seen as "not-we", and therefore threatening in that way also. If said immigrants have some clear marker which distinguishes them from the locals, then there you have a recipe for racism in the making - with a socio-economic basis.

All that being said, I'm probably talking through my hat, because IANAS (I Am Not A Sociologist).
kerravonsen: Rose in a patchwork of styles: Time Traveller (Rose-time-traveller)
2016-02-03 06:39 pm
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Normal person: It washes mouths.

Marketroid:cut for your own protection )
Brought to you by a bottle of mouthwash and my thesaurus.
kerravonsen: Dayna pointing a gun: "I don't NEED to kill you with my brain" (Dayna)
2015-11-27 08:09 am

More For the Vultures

Douglas Adams had this to say about war:

Three stages in the history of warfare:
RETRIBUTION: I'm going to kill you because you killed my brother.

ANTICIPATION: I'm going to kill you because I killed your brother.

DIPLOMACY: I'm going to kill my brother and then kill you, on the pretext that your brother did it.

(The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

If he'd been alive today, he might have added another one.

TERRORISM: My brother will martyr himself killing your sister, so that you will martyr his family, so that my cousins will kill you and I'll run away laughing.
kerravonsen: Draco Malfoy: Turn back (Draco)
2015-11-26 08:37 pm
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Horrific Destruction

"Russians" by Sting came up on my randomplay.

Thinking about nuclear bombs (and I followed a few other links which gave me more information on the scale of destruction they are capable of)... it's a bit like Avada Kedavra, isn't it? Not the scale, obviously, but the feeling of a death that there is no defence against. Or like the Deplorable Word - the weapon that is too horrible to use. Too horrible for any sane person to use. Unfortunately, I am certain that there exist human beings on this Earth who would not hesitate to use them if they had them. People who are not interested in their own survival.

There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe any more.

War only benefits vultures.

Maybe I should start wearing a Peace Sign. It originated with the Nuclear Disarmament movement.
kerravonsen: Joe peering around a corner: Just watching (Joe-watching)
2015-10-25 09:16 pm


After looking at the "Design" category on Pinterest...

* Clothes design: the more avante-garde, the uglier and more uncomfortable it is
* Interior design: everyone has enormous rooms with no sign that anyone lives there
* Furniture design: I wonder how these pieces even stay up, or why anyone would want to sit on them